Circulation Services

CIR-1 Library Cards for Montana Residents

Any resident of Montana is eligible for a free Billings Public Library card by applying in person or online. Two types of identification are required to open a Library account: a photo ID and proof of current address. An unexpired Montana Driver’s License or ID with a current street address will satisfy both requirements. Other acceptable forms of photo identification and proof of current address when applying for a Library card include the following:

Examples of Photo ID:

  • Valid US passport
  • Valid US military identification card
  • Out-of-State driver’s license
  • School ID
  • Employee or contractor photo ID card issued by a local, state, tribal or US government agency

Examples of Proof of Address:

  • Vehicle insurance or registration card
  • Voter registration card
  • Current utility or telephone bill
  • Checking or savings account statement
  • Current Tax statement
  • Rental receipt, lease or deed
  • Checkbook with printed name and address
  • Recently postmarked item of mail
  • Valid fishing license with current address
  • Valid hunting license with current address

If you do not have proof of your current address, please come into the Library to obtain an official proof of address postcard. Once you have received this official Library postcard in the mail, you may return the postcard to the Library with an acceptable photo ID to obtain a library card with full borrowing privileges.

When applying for a card using an online application, an acceptable form of photo identification and proof of current address must be presented at the service desk before the account will be activated and a Library card issued.

To safeguard patron identity, the Library cannot accept electronic copies or screen shots of a photo ID as proof of identity. All documents used for photographic identification must be originals. The Library does allow electronic documents displayed on portable devices to be used as proof of address. The electronic version must be an original sent from the organization that issued the document (i.e. proof of vehicle insurance, utility bills, bank statement, etc.)

Montana residents living outside of Yellowstone County or who do not have proof of a permanent mailing address in Yellowstone County are eligible for a Montana Resident card. This card will permit cardholders to check out ten items at a time, place up to five items on hold, and use the Library's computers. The card will be valid for one year.

  • Applicants residing in a temporary residential facility in Yellowstone County may receive a Montana Resident card. In addition to a photo ID, applicants must provide a piece of mail received within the prior two weeks or a note from the facility printed on letterhead for immediate borrowing privileges. Applicants without proof of address may fill out an official postcard and return later upon receiving the postcard to activate their account.
  • Post office boxes are not considered a permanent mailing address. Applicants residing in Montana but without a street address may receive a Montana Resident card by presenting an acceptable form of photo identification and a proof of current address.

Students not resident in Yellowstone County, but registered at schools and colleges within Yellowstone County, are eligible for full borrowing privileges, upon presentation of proof of current registration along with an acceptable form of photo identification and a proof of current address.

Employees of the City of Billings and of Yellowstone County, but not resident in Yellowstone County, are eligible for full borrowing privileges, upon presentation of proof of current employment by the City or County along with an acceptable form of photo identification and a proof of current address.

The parent or legal guardian of a minor may provide his or her own photo identification and proof of current address to obtain a Library card for a child. The parent/guardian must sign the application certifying that the minor resides at that residence. A minor’s relative or caregiver may follow the same procedure to obtain a Montana Resident card. In either case, a Library card cannot be issued without the child present.

Lost Library Cards

Cardholders will be charged a $1.00 fee for replacement of a lost library card. Every library patron is responsible for immediately reporting to the Library when his or her library card is lost or stolen and also responsible for charges on it until the Library is notified that it has been lost or stolen.

Upon presentation to the Library of a copy of a police report which documents that a card has been reported stolen, the Library will limit the liability of the patron for any charges accrued to the card after the theft of the card but before it is reported to the Library according to the following schedule.

  • Theft report presented to the Library within 15 days of charges being assessed to card: No more than $50.
  • Theft report presented to the Library within 30 days of charges being assessed to card: No more than $100.
  • Theft report present to the Library more than 30 days after charges are assessed to card: No limitation; full charges apply.

CIR 1.1 Computer and internet Access Library Card

Some Library users may wish only to be permitted to sign in to computers and the Internet and do not require any ability to check materials out of the Library. For those persons, the Library will provide a Computer Use Only Card. The card will be valid for eighteen months. (Provisional language approved: 09/09/2021)

CIR-2 Library Cards for Out of State Residents

Nonresidents of Montana may obtain a Billings Public Library card with photo identification and proof of address and payment of an annual fee of $75.00, or a quarterly fee of $20.00. Nonresident cards will be valid for the period issued and will entitle cardholders to all of the services provided to Billings and Yellowstone County cardholders.

CIR-3 Loan Periods and Loan Limits

Current cardholders, including those with non-resident cards, may check out books, selected magazines, compact discs, audiobooks, and pamphlet materials for a period of 28 days. Selected new adult fiction and nonfiction will be checked out for 14 days. Selected DVDs will be checked out for 7 days. All other DVDs will be checked out for 14 days. Loan periods for Outreach services are set in relation to stops.

Downloaded electronic content will be available for the period indicated by terms of licenses granted by content providers.

Books and audiovisual materials may be returned to the Circulation desk or book drops at the downtown Library or Community Library, the Bookmobile, or Senior Homebound Outreach staff. Items such as tablets, book club kits, equipment crates, and cognition kits must be returned to a library public service desk.

Current issues and other selected magazines, newspapers, Reference books (those whose call number begins with R, JR or YR), telephone books, Genealogy Room materials and Montana Room materials do not circulate.

Cardholder accounts have item checkout limits based on residency and card type. Cardholders whose accounts show that they have lost or overdue items outstanding or accrued fines of $5.00 or greater will not be permitted to check out Library materials.

CIR-4 Renewals

Circulating materials may be renewed for up to two additional periods equal to the original loan period as long as no holds are waiting for those items.

CIR-5 Holds

Regular library cardholders may have up to 20 holds at any one time, including any hold items waiting on the hold shelf for pickup. Patrons with a Montana Resident card may have up to 5 holds at any one time. Patrons have 7 days to checkout holds once they become available.

CIR-6 Claims Returned / Never Had

In the event that a patron asserts that a lost item was returned, but it still appears on the patron’s record, Library staff will search for the item for 90 days, during which time the patron should also look for it. If the item is not located after the 90 days, the patron will be billed for the amount of the item plus the processing fee. If the item is found after the patron has paid for it, the Library will refund the amount paid, less the processing fee, to the patron.

In the event of a patron disputing a lost item that they believe they did not check out on their account, the patron will need to file a police report with the Billings Police Department. Once the patron has provided a copy of the police report to Library staff the items and fees will be removed from their account. 

CIR-7 Lost or Damaged Materials

The Library charges for lost library materials and library materials damaged through neglect, or requiring cleaning before its next use. For lost materials or those damaged beyond repair, the total charge will consist of the replacement cost of the material and a $5.00 processing fee intended to cover restocking costs. For materials requiring repair and/or cleaning, the charge will consist of the costs incurred in repairing or cleaning the item.

The Library will accept a replacement copy for a lost or damaged item. The replacement copy must be identical to the original copy and have the same ISBN number or other standard identifying number as determined by a library staff member (in the case of non-book materials). The replacement copy must be in new or “like new” condition. The patron will be charged a $5.00 processing fee per each lost item. This fee covers items that are in addition to the cost of the lost material (i.e. bar codes, labels, book jackets, AV containers, MARC record, etc.).

In the event a patron returns a book or other item thought to be lost within one year of paying for it, the retail price of the material will be credited to the patron. The processing fee will not. Identifiers from damaged library materials will be retained by the library to be withdrawn from the collection and the damaged item will be retained by the patron if they want it. Patrons will be charged for lost/damaged interlibrary loan materials based on the charge assessed by the lending library. Additional fees may be assessed to recover costs of collection.

CIR-8 Fines and fees

The Library charges a fine of $0.25 per day the Library is open for overdue library materials, with a ceiling of $10.00 per loan period or the list price of the item, whichever is less, except as noted hereafter. The fines for interlibrary-loaned materials will be $0.50 per day the Library is open, with a ceiling of $10.00. The fines for “Easy Reader” books (those with a call number beginning with an E) will be $0.10 per day the Library is open, with a ceiling of $10.00 per item per loan period. No overdue fines will be charged on magazines or uncataloged paperback books.Borrowers with fines totaling $5.00 or less may check out materials one time, but must clear their charges before being permitted further checkouts.

Other charges may apply as indicated elsewhere in this manual.

CIR-8.1 Replacement Fees

Audio CD Binder (SMALL< 12 DISCS) - $4.00
Audio CD Binder (BIG > 12 DISCS) - $6.00
Music CD Polybox - $3.00
DVD Case - $2.00
DVD’s & Music CD’s:
DVD Replacement Cover Insert - $1.00
DISC Flipper - $1.00
Music Liner Notes - $3.00
Book Wrap (New Books Only) - $2.00
Barcodes - $1.00
RFID Tag - $1.00
Stingray - $2.00

Processing Fees for Lost/Damaged Items - $5.00